Video: Outrage in Port Said after coronavirus casualty denied burial

Port Said Governor Adel al-Ghadban on Friday sacked the director of a civil society organization specialized in funeral services, after he refused to transfer a coronavirus victim from the hospital to the city’s cemetery – forcing the family of the deceased to transfer the body by pickup truck.

On Thursday a video went viral showing people loading a corpse in a body-bag onto a pickup truck. The man in the video complained that the authorities gave them no other option.

The daughter of the victim said that the ambulance and the hospital morgue refused to transfer her father’s remains to a cemetery.

“My brothers brought a pickup car and had to wear gloves and masks to carry my dad’s corpse. They then turned themselves over to the fever hospital for quarantine,” she said.

Ghadban also referred board members of the Islamic Society for Social Welfare and Burial of the Dead in Port Said to investigations.

The corpse of the victim was in Mabara Hospital located right next to the headquarters of the civil society organization, Ghadban noted.

The family of the deceased contacted the organization which received instructions from Port Said’s Social Solidarity Director to transfer the body once the funeral car was sterilized and the driver provided with protective clothing.

The organization did not respond, however.

A statement from the governorate revealed that the 64-year-old deceased man arrived at the hospital on March 31 and was suspected as a coronavirus case. He tested positive for the virus on April 1 and died on the same day.

The statement added that the governorate has cooperated with the Health Ministry to prepare a special vehicle to transfer coronavirus victims for burial, also working with the Social Solidarity Ministry to allocate a vehicle to the civil society organization for this purpose.

The Health Directorate carried out sterilization procedures for the deceased’s residence, the building he resided as well as the pickup car that transferred his corpse, the statement said.

The Director of the Medical Care Authority in Port Said, a health insurance organization, Adel Taela, said the transfer of the body was the family’s responsibility.

However, MP Mahmoud Hussein slammed the idea and submitted an early day motion (EDM) requesting a briefing from the Prime Minister. Hussein’s response was that families cannot be responsible for transferring deceased coronavirus cases as it exposes citizens to risk of infection.

And the head of the Islamic Society for Social Welfare and Burial of the Dead in Port Said, Abdel Samad Kamel, said that dealing with coronavirus cases is the domain of preventive medicine and the health ministry and must not be left to citizens, as there are specific health protocols and measures that must be followed regarding sterilization and the burial of the dead.

“We will not acquiesce to any official in the process of burying coronavirus deaths, because it is not our role according to health protocols, as we deal daily with hundreds of people and will not allow them to be infected,” Kamel stressed.

Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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